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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Canadian Comedy Awards, night 1

Dateline St. John

Or is it Saint John? My sources tell me both are correct. Either way, it's not Newfoundland. Here's the way to remember: Each place has only one S. Since New Brunswick already has an S in it, the city is St. John without the S. There's no S in Newfoundland, so the city gets the S, i.e. St. John's.

Or else you could just have paid attention in Geography 11.

Anyway, here I am, four hours ahead of myself. The flights here were great. I'm not the best of fliers, but maybe I'm getting better. We (the family and I) were surprised by seeing comedian Harry Doupe in the St. John airport. He was there to pick up his nephew but kindly offered us a ride into town.

After getting settled in, I wandered out into the night. Actually, I was headed to the Hilton, the official hotel of the festival, when I heard someone doing standup. They were piping the audio from inside out onto the street. Gotta like that. It was my only clue there was a show there. Well, that and Harry told me about it on our ride.

Cougar's Lounge was the name of the dive. I arrived while the last of the four comics in the Funniest Person in New Brunswick contest was on. His name was Neal. Or Neil. Didn't catch his last name, but if he's any indication of the quality of comedy in this province, it's pretty good. His timing was excellent and he had some great lines. He talked about his 14-year-old daughter being diagnosed with being a bitch. But it was the set-up and the pause that sold the joke. Similarly when he talked of his cat's explosive diarrhea on Christmas Day and the huge mess it made in the house. "Oh, man, those were the worst four hours... of my wife's life." Ah, the pause that refreshes.

After his set, the three judges, who had a microphone at their table, each gave a comment on his performance. I love that idea. I wish we had that at competitions in Vancouver. I should also say that if we did, I'd never judge again, but still, I love the idea.

Following Neal/Neil were two guest spots. The first was by multiple Canadian Comedy Award winner Ron Sparks, whose voice reminded me of a combination of A.J. McKenzie and Sean Proudlove. And he had Sean's habit of holding the mic too far from his mouth so it was kind of hard to hear him. One of his lines I either heard from him or someone in Vancouver before. When you see so much comedy, it sometimes all bleeds together and you can't remember who said what. It was the bit about stealing a bunch of prescription forms from his doctor, then making scribbles on it, taking it to the pharmacist and seeing what he gets back.

The second guest spot went to my chauffeur, Doupe. I hadn't seen Harry perform since the late 1980s in Saskatoon. Prior to that, I saw him all the time in the early 1980s at Punchlines, where he was a fixture. I still remember his John McEnroe routine to this day. No McEnroe jokes this time around, but he was really good.

Then it was time for the announcement of the winner. And it was... not Neal/Neil. Not knowing I'd be at a show, I didn't have a pen or paper on me and my memory is atrocious. So I can't remember. But I'll find out and let you know. He's doing another show. Interestingly, the judges gave him pointers, suggesting he end his routine at a certain spot. I'm looking forward to seeing him tonight, I think it is.

That's it. Two shows tonight. I'll try to get to both of them. Thankfully at this festival, there are no overlapping shows.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wowzers I was actually at that show! I can't believe I am actually reading you talk about it today what two years later? Haha I thought they picked the wrong winner that night but oh well judges like what judges like I suppose. Ron Sparks and Harry Doupe destroyed I don't think you gave them enough credit. The place was packed and way to hot. Probably because they were taping with huge cameras, lights, etc.